Zoning Update FAQ
WILLIAMSON COUNTY ZONING UPDATE
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
The County is in the process of updating its zoning in order to help implement the various goals and policies outlined in recently adopted plans. The following is a list of “frequently asked questions” intended to provide information regarding this effort and how citizens can participate in the process and provide their feedback.
Why is the County proposing to rezone certain areas of the County?
Comprehensive Land Use Plan: The County recently adopted an updated version of its Comprehensive Land Use Plan, which represents a vision for the future growth and preservation of the unincorporated areas of the County. The plan outlines the County’s policies for desired land use patterns, rural preservation efforts, open space and natural resource protection, the quality and character of growth, and the provision of public services and facilities.
Among other things, the plan calls for preserving rural character in outlying areas and focusing the majority of new growth in and around the municipalities where infrastructure is in place, or can be readily provided to accommodate development. Based on significant public input and extensive research and analysis, the Plan demonstrates that not only does this development pattern much more closely align with the community character envisioned by the majority of citizens, but if fares much better with regard to traffic/roadway improvement needs (approximately $110 million reduction in roadway improvement needs outside the Urban Growth Boundaries (UGB’s)) and overall fiscal impacts (approximately $3.5 billion reduction in overall costs to provide services outside of UGB’s). Note: Urban Growth Boundaries are the areas located outside of the current corporate limits of the cities, but identified by the cities as areas likely to be annexed in the future.
To accomplish this development pattern, the Plan recommends reducing allowable densities in rural areas (except in designated Hamlets or Villages) from 1 unit-per-acre to 1 unit-per-5 acres. It should be noted that the majority of rural Williamson County already has a 1 unit-per-5 acre zoning designation and this proposed change would result in more consistency, primarily between the eastern and western areas of the County.
Additionally, the Plan recommends that the County partner with the municipalities to jointly plan for development in the (UGB’s). Further, the Plan recommends additional rural protection strategies, including those related to preserving agricultural uses, creating an open space plan, changing how the County evaluates the effects of traffic generated by new development, and updating how Conservation Subdivisions preserve open space and are integrated into their surrounding communities.
Triune Special Area Plan: The Triune Special Area Plan outlines the County’s and the Triune Community’s long-term policies with respect to future land uses, design and character issues, and infrastructure and accessibility needs. Based upon extensive input and involvement from the Triune community, the Plan articulates a shared vision for Triune’s future and identifies specific goals and objectives designed to achieve that vision.
The Plan calls for the creation of 4 new zoning districts to help implement the goals and policies of the Plan. Those zoning districts are:
Character Area 1 – envisioned as a largely rural environment in which low-density residential and agricultural uses are encouraged and where the retention of green space and natural resources is emphasized. This area is proposed to allow a maximum residential density of 1 unit-per-5 acres.
Character Area 2 – Generally following the boundaries of the existing Village (V) zoning district, this area is envisioned as a walkable “rural village”, with an expanded array of neighborhood-scaled shops, restaurants, and other businesses that serve the needs of the community.
Character Area 3 – This area envisioned as a mixed use area comprised of retail, office and residential uses. Somewhat larger buildings and a broader range of uses than in Character Area 2 will be allowed. However, design standards will help ensure that a high quality of development is maintained.
Character Area 4 – This area is envisioned as a high-quality, moderate density residential area located in close proximity to I-840 and the commercial services that will be provided in the adjacent Character Areas 2 and 3.
Which areas of the County are proposed to be rezoned and what will the new zoning be?
Generally speaking, rural areas outside of the Urban Growth Boundaries are proposed to be rezoned to a 1 unit-per-5 acre designation except for the following:
- Areas currently zoned Hamlet;
- Areas zoned with one of the Village designations;
- Properties within the Triune Special Area Plan;
- Parcels within existing and approved subdivisions developed with lots of less than 5 acres in size; and
- Areas that are already zoned with a 1 unit-per-5 acre designation
Additionally, areas within the Triune Special Area Plan are proposed to be rezoned to one of the four (4) Triune Character Area designations as outlined in the adopted Plan.
Proposed Zoning Changes
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How can I see if my property will be affected?
There are three ways that you can see if your property is proposed to be rezoned.
- You can view the existing zoning map (click here) and the proposed zoning map (click here) to see the proposed changes from a general standpoint.
- You can visit the County’s online mapping system (click here) and then either type in an address in the search bar or use the navigation tools to find your property. Once in the mapping system, you can turn on a “zones” layer or a “proposed zoning” layer by checking on the boxes on the left side of the screen to see both existing and proposed zoning.
- You can contact the Planning Department to inquire about existing and proposed zoning using the following contact information:
Phone – (615)-790-5725 (Mike Matteson or Aaron Holmes)
Email – email@example.com
There are many existing parcels that are less than 5 acres in size within the areas proposed to go to 1 unit per 5 acres. Will this prevent owners of these parcels from building homes or additions to existing homes?
No, a property owner can build a home on any parcel that has been legally established, regardless of the size of that parcel.
What if I want to carve out a lot that is less than 5 acres for a family member? Will these changes prevent that?
The Plan contains a recommendation to explore methods, incentives, and tools to protect working agriculture in the County and to allow the creation of lots of less than 5 acres in size for family subdivisions. Staff is working on amendments to the zoning ordinance that will address these circumstances and permit the creation of lots of less than 5 acres for individuals who wish to allow additional family members to construct a home on their property. These zoning ordinance amendments will be presented to the County for adoption in conjunction with the zoning change.
How will Conservation Subdivisions be handled in the 1 unit per 5 acre districts?
First, Conservation Subdivisions are subdivisions where individual lot sizes can be smaller (i.e. less than 5 acres in a 1 unit-per-5 acre district) in exchange for leaving large areas of the site as permanently protected open space. A form of Conservation Subdivisions has been allowed in the County since approximately 1988. Current Conservation Subdivision standards require significant separation between roads and building lots within these subdivisions from adjacent properties and existing County roads.
Conservation Subdivisions will still be allowed and encouraged in order to preserve larger areas of open space and retain rural character. Initially, there was a recommendation in the Plan that lots in Conservation Subdivisions within the 1 unit-per-5 acre districts should be at least 1 acre in size. That recommendation was removed from the Plan to allow more flexibility when creating the specific standards. Staff has developed a draft set of revised Conservation Subdivision Standards, which will be presented to the County in conjunction with the zoning change. The standards will allow smaller lots but will also provide increased open space requirements and transitional buffers from adjoining properties. This will be beneficial in a number of ways, including:
- Providing the development community an opportunity to develop a wider range of housing products, including those currently being provided in the unincorporated County;
- Reducing infrastructure and development costs by encouraging development to take place in a more concentrated fashion;
- Increasing open space and preserving green space by encouraging development to take place in a more concentrated fashion, while still respecting the transition between a development and any larger parcels adjacent to developing tracts; and
- Providing for larger contiguous areas of open space in order to allow greater opportunities for those areas to be utilized for agricultural uses and/or passive recreation.
Are there already areas in the unincorporated County that are zoned 1 unit-per 5-acres?
Yes, the majority of the western side of the County outside of the UGB’s is zoned to allow a maximum density of 1 unit-per-5 acres and a large portion of the eastern side of the County is also zoned at 1 unit-per-5 acres. In total, roughly 65% of the unincorporated County outside of the UGB’s are already zoned 1 unit-per-5 acres and have been zoned that way since 1988.
Will there still be areas within the unincorporated County where property can be developed at densities higher than 1 unit-per-5 acres?
Yes, there are a number of areas within the unincorporated County where property can be developed at higher densities. These areas include the Hamlet (H) zoning districts, the various Village designations, and within 3 of the 4 Character Areas as outlined in the Triune Special Area Plan. It should also be noted that two of the existing Hamlets (Arrington and Rudderville) will be re-designated as Villages following adoption of Special Area Plans. This will provide some level of additional development potential in these areas. Additionally, the zoning in the UGB’s is not proposed to be changed at this time.
What about people who are in the process of developing property or platting lots when the new zoning becomes effective?
As long as a complete application has been submitted to the County prior to the new zoning becoming effective, that application can continue through the review and approval process under the current zoning regulations.
If the zoning of my property will change, how will I be notified?
First, postcards have already been sent to all property owners within the areas proposed to be rezoned. Among other information, these postcards directed people to this web page for information about the rezoning process. Additionally, all property owners subject to the zoning changes will be notified by direct mail of the required public hearings, one to be held by the Planning Commission and one to be held by the County Commission. Notice of the public hearings will also be placed in the newspaper and on the County website. The County will also place signs along County Roads in order to provide notice to residents to seek information on the zoning changes on the County website.
How can I voice my opinion about these proposed zoning changes?
Public input is very important to the County and vital to this process. To that end, a variety of input opportunities are available to residents. The County has created a number of ways to convey information and to receive comments from residents, while being mindful of the limitations due to the COVID 19 crisis. Those public input opportunities will take place during the month of July and will include the following:
- Citizens can call or email the Planning Department with questions, comments and other feedback at (615)790-5725 (Mike Matteson or Aaron Holmes) or firstname.lastname@example.org;
- Citizens may participate in virtual meetings, where they can learn about the proposed zoning and provide feedback. To request to attend a virtual meeting, please direct your request to email@example.com and please provide your name as well as the address or Map & Parcel number for your property. Virtual meetings will be limited in the number of attendees but staff will schedule as many virtual meetings as necessary to accommodate requests;
- Citizens may request individual meetings, which can be handled either virtually or face-to-face with social distancing, by contacting the Planning Department at (615)790-5725 (Mike Matteson or Aaron Holmes) or firstname.lastname@example.org;
- The County will hold at least two physical meetings for those who are unable to participate in the opportunities listed above. Guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and State and Local officials will be observed. Dates, times and locations for these meetings will be posted on this website.